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IITs plan master’s makeover to arrest high attrition rate

At IITs in Ropar, Roorkee and Kanpur, one in five students enrolled for MTech dropped out this year.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Oct 09, 2019, 11.46 AM IST
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At IIT Delhi, where the dropout rate has been much higher at 50%, the institute is planning to take measures including the roll-out of master’s in artificial intelligence
NEW DELHI: Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are revamping their master’s programmes to arrest the high attrition rates as students leave midway for jobs, especially at public sector units (PSUs).

At IITs in Ropar, Roorkee and Kanpur, one in five students enrolled for MTech programmes has dropped out this year.

At IIT Delhi, where the dropout rate has been much higher at 50%, the institute is planning to take measures including the roll-out of master’s in artificial intelligence (AI). “We are restructuring the master’s programme at our campus and as part of this we are planning to launch master’s in AI from next year,” said V Ramgopal Rao, director, IIT Delhi, where about 1,000 students each are enrolled in MTech and BTech programmes every year.

IIT Ropar director Sarit K Das said, “Each IIT will have to revamp MTech programmes and bring them closer to the industry’s requirement. This would certainly help in attracting more jobs for MTech students and eventually curbing the high attrition.”

Currently, IIT Ropar has a dozen MTech programmes, which the institute plans to reduce to four-five over the next year or so. The other existing MTech programmes will be merged with PhD programmes.

IIT Ropar is planning to introduce MTech programmes in new areas such as data analytics, cybersecurity and robotics to attract recruiters. “Only 20% MTech students get job offers at new IITs compared to 50% at old IITs,” said Das.

The changes in master’s programmes will be aligned to the needs of the industry at IITs, including those in Mandi and Guwahati. IIT Guwahati, which recently started master’s programmes in food science technology and data science, is looking at launching new master’s programmes, said director TG Sitharam.

“Most of the students leave MTech programmes midway for PSU jobs while others get better job opportunities in India or even outside,” said Timothy Gonsalves, director, IIT Mandi. Nearly 100 students enrol in MTech at Mandi every year.

MTech dropouts are responsible for vacant seats at these premier colleges while there are almost no dropouts in BTech courses, according to IITs, including those in Delhi, Ropar, Roorkee, Kanpur and Mandi.

High attrition is also the reason being cited for the massive fee hike of 900% announced recently for MTech courses from next year so that only serious students enrol. This issue was discussed at the IIT council meeting headed by human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar last month.

Fees for MTech programmes currently range between Rs 20,000 and Rs 40,000 per annum at the 23 IITs.

Apart from job offers from PSUs, MTech students also drop out because of non-performance, according to Sudhir Jain, director IIT Gandhinagar. “Soon we are going to discuss the percentage hike for MTech fee at the next board of governors meeting,” he said.

“MTech students mostly leave in the first semester for PSU jobs,” said Abhay Karandikar, director, IIT Kanpur. The institute plans to take a call on fee hike in the upcoming BOG meeting where it will also decide on raising the hostel fee. “All IITs should simultaneously increase the fee for MTech and we would ensure that it happens uniformly,” said Karandikar.

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